Media Companies in Australia Will Be Responsible For All Facebook Comments
This could a be a huge game changer for media companies all over the world – and certainly so in Australia.
Yesterday, New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Stephen Rotham, decreed media companies could be seen as the broadcasters of comments posted on Facebook. Therefore, they should be held liable for any defamatory claims made within an account or Page's comment section – not Facebook.
The ruling has sparked conversation within the Australian media industry, as outlets scramble to figure out how to efficiently monitor comments throughout a twenty-four hour cycle.
Some industry professionals feel the responsibility should fall on the social media platforms, not the media companies using their services.
Facebook has been criticized in the past for not allowing users to disable comments within public Facebook posts on Pages.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald “…only those who posted the comments on Facebook or who failed to remove the comments after being told about them were liable.”
The court case was prompted by Dylan Voller, who sued media companies for not removing offensive public comments from their public social profiles.
These comments were made on major media companies’ (such as The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald) Facebook posts about him. Voller never asked Facebook to remove the comments and did not directly contact the authors, rather, he sued the organisations for allowing defamatory comments to be published about him.
According to The Guardian, Justice Rotham’s decision was motivated by the fact that such media companies are commercial bodies.
As they operate to make a profit, they could not simply be viewed as a vessel through which readers could voice their opinion, but as encouraging for comments to be posted.
Though the trial was a success for Voller it raises the pertinent question of corporate liability.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Written by Anushé Samee.